Drinks companies and retailers today revealed a package of measures to tackle alcohol misuse, after months of negotiation between the industry and the government.
Home secretary Theresa May said the proposals, which were finalised in a summit at the Home Office yesterday, would help tackle the annual £21bn cost of drink-related harm.
The plans include a Responsibility Deal pledge to voluntarily remove from sale carbonated drinks in cans containing more than four units of alcohol, with AB InBev becoming the first supplier to commit to it.
It said it would no longer produce or sell the 9% ABV 500ml can of Tennent’s Super Lager in the UK from the end of 2014.
“We are committed to promoting responsible drinking, including through the marketing of our products, providing information and choice to our consumers, and supporting alcohol education,” said Inge Plochaet, Business Unit President, AB InBev UK and Ireland .
The government hopes other suppliers will now follow suit and it claimed the pledge would “call time on super-strength products in large cans.”
The announcement also includes a further Responsibility Deal pledge for retailers to commit to the “responsible display and promotion of alcohol in shops and supermarkets.”
And the industry has agreed to provide £250,000 to kick start a series of alcohol education programmes in schools.
“It is right that the alcohol industry is taking action to help reduce this burden, without penalising those that drink responsibly,” said May.
“The government welcomes the progress the alcohol industry has made so far in responding to the challenge we set them. We now look forward to seeing the positive impact of these pledges and continuing to work with industry to explore what else can be done to tackle alcohol abuse.”
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt added “Our Responsibility Deal has made real progress, as the industry is taking one billion units out of the market and has agreed to provide labelling which includes health warnings and unit information.”
Public health minister Jane Ellison also confirmed that the industry has all but met its target on a pledge to feature health information on 80% of labels on shelf by the end of 2013, by achieving 79.3%.